Tell Your Stories

Tell Your Stories

 

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

– Anne Lamott

 

Anne Lamott’s quote stopped me in my writing drift… Who said that? Who is Anne Lamott? What else does she have to say for herself? What book of Anne’s do I rush “out” and buy online and start learning from?

 

This now makes it to the top of my favourite writing quotes. Especially as I am considering delving deep into the art of memoir writing and exposing the rawness of all my experiences starting with my childhood… Just writing this causes my heart to beat viciously, as though it wants to protect me from every danger this world exudes.

 

“There is ecstasy in paying attention.”

– Anne Lamott

 

And being curious…

 

I drifted towards Anne Lamott’s Bird By Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life and started immersing my creative juices with each word.

 

Starting is the hardest part.

 

“The very first thing I tell my new students … is that good writing is about telling the truth. We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are. Sheep lice do not seem to share this longing, which is one reason they write so very little. But we do. We have so much we want to say and figure out. Year after year my students are bursting with stories to tell, and they start writing projects with excitement and maybe even joy— finally their voices will be heard, and they are going to get to devote themselves to this one thing they’ve longed to do since childhood. But after a few days at the desk, telling the truth in an interesting way turns out to be about as easy and pleasurable as bathing a cat.”

 

Following on from Anne’s “We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are.” words, I have a mild obsession with understanding why we choose to do certain things, despite not always being the best choice. Why do we wittingly make decisions, carry them out and then not accept the consequences and then other times we do? What is the human condition? Why, if we don’t know what’s best for ourselves, how can we know what’s best for anyone else around us? Can we truly be an authentic guide to others, such as rearing children or trying to fix another, if you haven’t been a great guide unto yourself? Why do we sometimes easily learn from our mistakes and then other times we don’t?

 

“Because this business of becoming conscious, of being a writer, is ultimately about asking yourself, How alive am I willing to be?”

 

Whenever I write, expose more of myself to myself, I feel incredibly alive, as alive as when I have jumped out of an aeroplane. With the ground rushing towards you, more than three thousand feet high, energy’s force distorting your face, pushing against you, not knowing if the parachute will open… The value of being alive suddenly becomes the most important thing in that moment. I couldn’t imagine ever being without the compulsion to write, to express, to record and return to reflect and learn and evolve and feel so alive while doing so, especially when intense emotion surges through my every fibre of being. So, this is what it means to appreciate life…

 

Forgiveness

 

Oh, how resistance becomes futile… I have to include Anne’s quote on forgiveness.

 

“Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.”

 

Die you cretin, die! It took me a while to understand what forgiveness means. It’s not about the other person and the resulting disappointment in my expectations of others when they choose not to respect me. It’s about myself and letting go of anger and resentment that ultimately results in emotional freedom and therapeutic resilience.

Letting go is emotional freedom!

 

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